Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

James Carson

Fall 2020 - From the Editor

When I was an undergraduate student incapable of mastering either geology, biology, or physics, I thought James Lovelock’s Gaia theory that the whole planet existed as a living organism was some serious New Age hoodoo. But over time I’ve grown towards it and am now chilled by his most essential conclusion: life is the price of life. Something always has to die for something else to live.

    Whether it was a bat, a pangolin, or a civet cat that a handful of gourmands had to eat for their health and virility, the poor creature’s journey from forest to wet market to plate traced a meandering trail of tears across a degraded land only to end at that bloody moment when one form of life has to end another form of life to survive. Is it the same when a police officer empowered as white kills a man disempowered as black? Protests across the globe have declared that Black Lives Matter. Far-right populists have countered that all lives matter. I’ve started to wonder which lives matter.

    A wise man once concluded that there is no difference between humans and the beings we conceive of as animals save for the enormous effort we have invested in setting ourselves apart through our art or religion or literature. The so-called story of human progress was, to him, a vast and sprawling monument to our refusal to accept that life is life and why an entire globe has mobilized to extirpate a virus that some consider a form of life, others a cluster of molecules, and still others something in-between.

    Please don’t be afraid to read this issue. It’s a good one. Just bear in mind as you work through the images, poetry, and prose that you might also be drawing a line across the planet, and Gaia will probably have something to say about it.